American Pharoah wins the 2015 Kentucky Derby
- American Pharoah was a Champion Two-Year-Old
American Pharoah has shown promise right from the start of his career, earning the title of 2014 Eclipse award champion two-year-old colt by winning a pair of top-level races in California. The first was the grade I Del Mar Futurity, in which American Pharoah seized the lead from the start and never looked back on his way to a decisive victory. The Del Mar Futurity also marked American Pharoah’s first victory, as he had finished a disappointing fifth in his first race despite being the favorite to win.
American Pharoah’s second major triumph came in the grade I FrontRunner Stakes, his first run in a non-sprint race. Once again, the colt went straight to the lead and was never challenged throughout, winning by just over three lengths while never being seriously urged to run. Texas Red, the third-place finisher that day, would go on to win the prestigious grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile by 6 1/2 lengths, providing a hint that American Pharoah had the potential to be a very special racehorse.
By winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, American Pharoah has become the first champion two-year-old since 1979 to come back the next year and sweep the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Remarkably, since official championships were established in 1936, only seven champion two-year-olds aside from American Pharoah have gone on to win the Derby and Preakness, and six of them were successful in sweeping the Triple Crown.
- American Pharoah Has a Short Tail
No Triple Crown hopeful would be complete without a charismatic quality that sets him apart from his rivals, and American Pharoah’s unusually short tail fits the bill. The story goes that when American Pharoah was young, a portion of his tail was chewed off by another horse, and while his tail is perhaps a bit longer now than it used to be, it is still much shorter than normal for an adult horse. But should American Pharoah win the Belmont Stakes, he won’t be the first Triple Crown winner known for his atypical tail length—1941 Triple Crown winner Whirlaway was nicknamed “Mr. Longtail” thanks to a tail that nearly brushed the ground.
- American Pharoah Doesn’t Like Noise
According to trainer Bob Baffert, American Pharoah doesn’t care for loud noises, including cheering crowds—obviously a concern for a top-class racehorse! To help keep American Pharoah calm and focused, Baffert has equipped the colt with cotton earplugs similar to the ones worn by Zenyatta during her legendary racing career.
- American Pharoah Loves Muddy Racetracks
Muddy racetracks have played a role in the defeat of past Triple Crown hopefuls, but a wet track shouldn’t trouble American Pharoah. We saw in the Preakness Stakes that the colt relishes wet conditions, but his seven-length victory was only a confirmation of what we saw earlier this year in the grade II Rebel Stakes, American Pharoah’s first race of 2015. Returning from an ankle injury suffered near the end of 2014, American Pharoah easily handled the sloppy track, winning by more than six lengths in very easy fashion. Thus, if it rains at Belmont Park on June 6th, it shouldn’t prove to be an issue for American Pharoah—in fact, it might even be a benefit!
- American Pharoah Doesn’t Need to Have the Early Lead
Although many of American Pharoah’s victories have been achieved in gate-to-wire fashion, that doesn’t mean that he’s strictly a front-runner. In the grade I Arkansas Derby, his final race before the Kentucky Derby, American Pharoah successfully settled into second place before drawing off to win by eight lengths, and in the Kentucky Derby itself, the colt raced in third early on before taking command in the homestretch to win by a length. But although he doesn’t need to have the early lead, utilizing his excellent speed might prove to be the best strategy in the Belmont Stakes. After all, seven of the eleven Triple Crown winners—including the last four—won the Belmont by leading from start to finish.
American Pharoah wins the 2015 Preakness Stakes
The Belmont Stakes will be broadcast live on NBC Sports starting at 4:30 pm EDT on June 6th. Be sure to tune in and watch as American Pharoah tries to make history!
J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and racing enthusiast who considers Zenyatta to be his all-time favorite racehorse. He is the founder of the horse racing website TheTurfBoard.com and writes for the Bloodhorse.com blog Unlocking Winners.